Thrillers are always a problem as one has to avoid giving away the plot and this latest offering at the Royal Court, billed as being slippery and promising that nothing as it is and nobody is who they are, is one such play. It opens with a surprise unlike any one has ever had before in the theatre and proceeds to deliver surprises right down to the closing minutes when what I took to be a fellow critic in the seat next to me turned out to be nothing of the kind.
Director Lucy Morrison has handled complicated material with skill – you believe what you get told so convincingly is it put over – and she gets terrific performances from Jake Davies as Noah Quilter and Siena Kelly as Celeste his Guardian blind date and future wife, the central figures in the story. Priyanga Burford as the author who narrates their story makes it all too credible. You believe her.
There is a good all purpose set by Naomi Dawson which takes us around the Quilter’s house as need be and Gino Ricardi Green’s video projections enhance the story’s credibility. It is about the deep state, the things government’s do but never admit to doing and people think too dreadful to imagine any government in a democracy doing – although every now and then the curtain lifts.
Is it true? Well the gimmick is that what we see is actually a play by Lucky Kirkwood called Rapture, and the evening opens with claims by the theatre that putting it on presented all sorts of legal problems and it is based on material she has collected. The couple became activists, lookers into what they thought the government was up to in secret, conspiracy theorists questioning everything from how Covid was handled to climate change and building up a huge audience of followers on You Tube. They become people of interest for those who watch.
The reuslt is aplay which takes audiences taken on a roller coaster ride to somewhere they did not know they were going to be taken who will leave shaken, stirred and not a little scared and begin googling to see whether there is possibly some truth to it all. The secrecy publicity ploy obviously cannot survive the reviews – audiences now know they are going to a Lucy Kirkwood play and will not be surprised to discover they came under false pretences. But it is a pretty good play which does what a thriller should do – scares one half to death.
Lucy Kirkwood: Priyanga Burford.
Noah: Jame Davies.
Celeste: Siena Kelly.
LK2: Ellie Kendrick; Lucy Kirkwood; Sophie Melville; Lettie Thomas.
Stage Manager: Carrie Rock.
F12: Zachary Wilcox.
Director: Lucy Morrison.
Designer: Naomi Dawson.
Lighting Designer: Anna Watson.
Sound Designer: Peter Rice.
Video Designer: Gino Ricardo Green.
Movement Director: Chi-San Howard.
Fight and Intimacy Director: Yarit Dor.